We are undoubtedly living in a period of time that will be written about in the textbooks of many disciplines. What is written about, however, is up to us. For a small, independent school like ours, history will say we gazed into the face of sudden change and uncertainty with confidence. There are many advantages to being big, but being small also has its benefits. Our small size affords us the ability to move quickly and decisively in order to continue offering our students with educational opportunities that will keep them on a path of earning credits.
We are now three weeks into this brave new world of online learning and Online courses, and with udacity nanodegree review we have experienced thus far is more than we had ever anticipated. The biggest and most surprising revelation from the first day, and one that has continued every day since, is the attendance record of our students in all courses across the board. Class attendances of 98-100% are the norm, an indication that our students are eager to continue learning, and that learning online, even with its expected shortcomings, gives our students a sense of normalcy that is psychologically and emotionally necessary in these bizarre times. Not only are students showing up for online classes, they are participating and getting work done.
After our first two weeks of online learning, we reflected on our collective experiences and introduced an entire day dedicated to the social and emotional well-being of our students by creating online clubs for them to attend. After school clubs are an important part of our school, and allowing our students to continue attending them was an easy choice to make. As such, we have several time slots for various clubs available to students from 10 am to 2 pm. Some of the clubs, such as Dungeons and Dragons and Cooking Club are old favourites, but we have also introduced new opportunities for students to socialize, such as board game club.
Learning online is not all sunshine and rainbows. There are obvious shortcomings and pitfalls. These challenges, however, are the exception and not the rule in the virtual learning space we have been able to create for our students. The overwhelming feedback from our students and their parents/caregivers has been positive. We have taken their feedback and, along with our own experiences and observations, have prepared ourselves to be ready to continue offering the best possible experience for our students in order to afford them the opportunity to continue learning and earning credits. “Being challenged in life is inevitable, being defeated is optional,” said Roger Crawford. At the Academy, defeat is not in our vocabulary. Learn On!